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April 14, 2008

How the State intervenes to protect children

Category: Other News
Press Release from MFG Solicitors LLP

The developing story of the abduction and rescue of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews has brought into sharp focus the powers of the State to intervene to protect children, according to family lawyers at MFG Solicitors who have offices across Worcestershire and Shropshire.

Julia Bond, an associate at the firm’s Telford office, said: “Much of this work goes on in private behind closed doors where Magistrates Courts on a regular basis act to protect children that are considered to be vulnerable.

“Powers to remove a child from its natural home may seem draconian but the procedure to invoke them is not entered into lightly.

“In the first instance, the local authority will seek an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) but it must be able to establish that there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is likely to suffer significant harm if he or she is not removed to safe accommodation.”

Initially an EPO can be obtained for eight days and it can only be extended once to make a total of 15 days from the initial order.

If the local authority then wishes to continue to protect and keep the child in safe accommodation it must then apply for an Interim Care Order.

Julia Bond said: “Care proceedings such as these are only instigated in exceptional circumstances and in a ruling in 2006 Judge McFarlane stated that EPOs would rarely be granted in cases of emotional abuse, non-specific allegations of sexual abuse or fabricated illness syndrome unless there was a risk of immediate significant harm.

“There is a very high burden of proof that is required to carry out these proceedings and they are never entered into lightly.”

The Magistrates Court considers such applications in private and effectively gives the local authority responsibility for the child in question.

MFG Solicitors, which has offices in Halesowen, Telford, Worcester, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster, Wellington, Stourport-on-Severn, Cleobury Mortimer and Oswestry, has one of the largest and most experienced family divisions in regional law firms.

Partners Jonathan Tougher and Clare Backler are members of The Law Society’s Family Panel and Robert Pearce is a member of the Children’s Panel.

Ends (345 words)

For further information please contact:

Julia Bond, Associate,

Padmore House, Hall Court, Hall Park Way, Town Centre Telford, TF3 4LX

01952 641651

Notes to Editors

A major regional law firm, MFG Solicitors LLP has offices in Halesowen, Telford, Worcester, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster, Wellington, Stourport-on-Severn, Cleobury Mortimer and Oswestry.

Prepared and issued by Andy Skinner, of ASAP. Tel: 01527 892004 (office), 07990 978257 (mobile

April 9, 2008

Putting the equestrian business on a stable footing

Category: Other News
Click for larger image
Picture caption: Lizz Fields-Pattinson and Kate Stubbs have launched a new service for the equestrian industry combining legal advice with health and safety advice.


Press Release from Else Solicitors

Horse riders and all involved in the equestrian industry can benefit from a new service launched by Else Solicitors which has offices in Birmingham and Burton-on-Trent.

The equine law and safety division of Else Solicitors which operates nationwide has been set up by lawyer Kate Stubbs and health and safety consultant Lizz Fields-Pattinson.

Kate Stubbs said: “Horses are a very valuable commodity now and the equestrian industry is big business.

“But although horse people are very professional when it comes to looking after and bringing on their horses, the industry has tended to lag behind on legal and health and safety issues.

“Livery yard businesses and horse owners in general have in the past only consulted a solicitor when something has gone wrong, and health and safety issues have been something to which people have tended to turn a blind eye.

“It could be said that too often the tendency is to try and close the stable door after the horse has bolted!”

She said the new division was intended to be as much pre-emptive and advisory as a source of legal support in crisis or when disputes have arisen.

“Too much equestrian business has in the past been conducted on the basis of a handshake but it is difficult to prove what was agreed verbally in a law court when disputes arise,” she said.

“And the tendency in the horse business has been to think that health and safety regulations are so rigorous and overwhelming that if you pay regard to them then any equestrian business would become automatically unworkable overnight.

“This is not so, and nevertheless the equestrian industry is governed by the same rules that apply to other sectors of business – albeit it is accepted that there are inherent risks involved to a degree in handling and working with large and unpredictable animals such as horses.

“Ignorance of the law, far less wilfully ignoring it, is no defence and horse owners and equestrian professionals need to ensure that they start out on the right leg and continue to operate in a way that is legal and within the health and safety regulatory regime as it applies to their industry.”

She added that areas that often caused controversy and dispute included issues such as horse loan agreements and sale agreements when the terms are agreed verbally.

“A well written agreement, signed by both parties at the outset, can often help to clarify what is expected on both sides and avoid disputes arising in the first place,” she said.

Areas covered by Else Solicitors’ equine law division include drafting agreements and contracts to cover a wide range of situations from livery agreements to contracts for the sale or purchase of horses, dispute resolution services and advice on land use and property issues concerning the sale and purchase of agricultural and commercial land and premises, planning permissions and grazing arrangements.

Lizz Fields-Pattinson said: “Our health and safety service helps protect you, your property as well as your livelihood and employees. We will help you assess the risks associated with your operations such as fire, safety, work activities and accidents. We also advise on the running of an event to reduce the risks involved in this activity.”

Kate Stubbs said: “Our new equine law and health and safety advisory service is not about telling people what they can’t do, it is about helping both equestrian professionals and the weekend rider to stay within the law and try and pre-empt disputes before they arise.

“To that extent it is an advisory rather than a purely legal service.”

For a preliminary chat on all matters equestrian or in relation to health and safety issues, contact Kate Stubbs on or call 01283 526200.

Ends (620 words)

For further information, please contact

Kate Stubbs, Head of Equine Law,

Else Solicitors, Gibraltar House, Crown Square, First Avenue, Centrum 100 Business Park, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire DE14 2WE

01283 526200


Else Solicitors, Aspect Court, 4 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5HG

0121 222 2602

Prepared and issued by Andy Skinner of ASAP PR, 01527 892004, or mobile, 07990 978257.

Notes to Editors:

The firm was established by Chris Else in November 2003. Chris has over 25 years experience in the legal profession and working in the business community. He was joined by Andrew Hickman as a Partner in October 2007 who has in excess of 20 years experience in acting for the Construction Industry.

The firm currently employs 14 additional lawyers, many of whom have been recruited from leading law firms with the objective of bringing together a team of experienced advisers providing city advice at competitive rates for the benefit of UK based businesses and private clients.

March 31, 2008

Natural remedies can kill, warns Walsall vet

Category: Other News
Press release from Hillman Vets

A Walsall vet has raised the alarm about a popular home remedy which can kill cats and possibly dogs.

Hillman Vets want to publicise the dangers of tea tree oil, a popular herbal remedy recommended on many pet care websites.

Hillmans first became aware of the dangers a few months ago, when they were asked to treat a Dalmatian which suffered a series of fits.

Communications with poisons experts and veterinary colleagues elsewhere in the UK revealed there have been a number cat deaths attributed to the oil.

The remedy, which is widely available over-the-counter, can trigger potentially fatal seizures.

Cats are particularly sensitive and the Veterinary Poisons Information Service is aware of a number of deaths.

In the Dalmatian case, the dog suffered a series of fits resembling epilepsy, and vets were poised to start anti-epileptic drugs, but were puzzled that not all of the tests indicated epilepsy.

Suspecting that there might be another cause, they carried out an in-depth consultation with the owner and discovered that the fits occurred after an application of tea tree oil to an open wound.

Hillmans veterinary surgeon Jackie Tollerfield, who treated the Dalmatian, said: “It was a tricky case because it looked as if the dog was developing epilepsy, but it didn’t quite add up.

“We contacted the Veterinary Poisons Information Service and they confirmed that the oil can cause potentially fatal seizures.

“We could easily have put this dog on to the wrong treatment. Owners need to be aware that certain essential oils are lethal to cats and possibly to dogs too”.

Richard Hillman, chief veterinary surgeon at the five Hillman clinics, said: “Many natural remedies are not as safe as they seem.

“We have spoken to colleagues elsewhere who have seen cat deaths induced by the oil, and we want people to be aware that so-called natural remedies can have serious or fatal side effects.

“If an animal is ill, or suffers injury, it’s much better to allow a vet to examine them, and prescribe a safe treatment”.

Owners who fear their pet has suffered side effects from tea tree oil or another natural remedy can contact one of the five Hillman Clinics as listed:

Richard Hillman Veterinary Surgery, 4 Brickiln Street, Brownhills, (telephone 01543 375154)

Darlaston PetSave Veterinary Centre, 53 Church Street, Darlaston, (0121 526 3555)

Richard Hillman Veterinary Surgery, 109 Weston Street, Walsall, (01922 720539).

Arboretum Veterinary Centre, 58 Lichfield Street, Walsall, (01922 622280)

Britannia Park Veterinary Centre, 60 Britannia Way, Lichfield, (01543 416336)


Press contact: Richard Hillman on 01922 725787 or 07739 814559.

March 19, 2008

Barclays helps young Stratford sports stars

Category: Other News
Click for larger image
Picture caption: David Hartopp, Maria Jones and Yinka Belgore.

Press Release from SportsAid Stratford

Community-spirited staff at Barclays Bank in Stratford-upon-Avon have helped a new charity in the town double the money raised at its first event.

Branch manager Maria Jones with colleagues David Hartopp and Yinka Belgore helped SportsAid Stratford raise over £4,000 at the inaugural lunch held at the Holiday Inn in the town.

Barclays staff can obtain matched funding up to £750 each, three times a year, to boost a local cause they have helped to raise funds.

SportsAid Stratford chairman Graham Carter said: “Maria and her team have given us a brilliant start to SportsAid Stratford and their enthusiasm helped us to raise this tremendous sum at our very first event.”

SportsAid is a national charity that helps to support young sporting stars, typically in the 12-18 age group, who need help to enable them to achieve their potential.

Former Olympic and Commonwealth swimmer Sharron Davies was the guest of honour at the first event and she praised the Stratford business community for getting behind the first SportsAid event in the town.

The next lunch is scheduled at the Holiday Inn on Wednesday, May 21, and the sports star who will be speaking at that event will be announced shortly.

Ends (200 words)

For further information, please contact:

Andy Skinner, Managing Director,

ASAP Ltd, 1a High Street, Astwood Bank, Redditch, B96 6DB

01527 892004

March 17, 2008

Get behind our military in war zones!

Category: Other News
Click for larger image
Picture caption: Michelle Hewitt and Stuart Elder of Horwath Clark Whitehill raised £300 for the Help for Heroes Charity in the Reading Half Marathon.


Press Release from Horwath Clark Whitehill LLP

The message to get behind Britain’s male and female soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq has gone out loud and clear from accountants and business advisers Horwath Clark Whitehill in Reading.

The firm’s marketing manager Michelle Hewitt and financial planning manager Stuart Elder were among the 15,000 runners competing in the Reading Half Marathon.

They raised £300 for the Help for Heroes charity which helps injured service personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is aiming for a total of £6 million to build a swimming pool and new gym complex at Headley Court, the tri-service rehabilitation centre in Surrey.

The charity is supported by many top figures including the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, and it is backed by the Army Benevolent Fund.

Michelle Hewitt has a brother James Cazeaux who is serving with the 4th Regiment of Royal Artillery in Afghanistan.

Michelle said: The family are very proud of James and we’d like to thank the Reading business community in getting behind us.”

She added: “Stuart had done a half marathon but I was new to it and in training five days a week. We were determined to post good times.”

Michelle suffered a foot injury on the circuit but still managed to finish in two hours 47 minutes. Stuart completed the event in just under two hours.

Ends (224 words)

For further information, please contact:

Michelle Hewitt, Marketing Manager,

Horwath Clark Whitehill LLP,

Aquis House, 49-51 Blagrave Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 1PL

Telephone: 0118 959 7222

Prepared and issued by Dale le Vack of ASAP PR, 01527 892004, or mobile, 07972 506170.

Notes to editors

Horwath Clark Whitehill is a leading national provider of accounting and business advice. The firm offers specialist and technical expertise to owner-managed businesses and larger corporates, not-for-profit organisations, pension funds, professional practices and private clients.

Horwath Clark Whitehill has over 60 partners and around 500 staff based in 8 offices in the UK.

Worldwide, Horwath Clark Whitehill is the UK member of Horwath International. As one of the largest global professional service organisations, Horwath International has more than 120 independent member firms operating from 430 offices around the world.

For more information visit our website at

This information is published without responsibility on our part for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of any information published herein. © Horwath Clark Whitehill LLP - 2008.

March 6, 2008

Bond Wolfe sponsors kit for school rugby tour

Category: Other News
Click for larger image
Picture caption: Kings Edwards School rugby coach George Cookson with Bond Wolfe managing partner James Mattin and members of the school’s touring party.


Press Release from Bond Wolfe

Midland property investors and auctioneers Bond Wolfe will again sponsor the kit for a six-day overseas Easter rugby tour of one of Birmingham’s top sporting academies.

It will be the 3rd successive occasion Bond Wolfe has provided kit for the trip by King Edwards’ School, Camp Hill, which includes three matches in four days in the Dundalk area.

In total 40 boys, aged 16-18 and from the first and second team squads, will be travelling in a party of 70 that includes parents, staff, old boys, and governors.

It is the 14th year the school has visited Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic at Easter. They will play Dundalk RFC, Lisburn RFC, and Bainbridge Academy.

King Edwards’ School sports teacher George Cookson, who has been in charge of rugby for 39 years and retires this summer, will lead the tour as coach and manager.

He said: “We are all looking forward to this tour which we expect will be a fulfilling end to a good season, whatever the results of the matches.

He continued: “For some boys it will be their third overseas tour to Ireland and thanks to their enthusiastic response to coaching and fitness during the winter, many of them will play at the highest standard they are likely to achieve in their life.

“Many players in the 1st XV have been together in the same team since they were 12 years of age, and I would rate this side in the top 10 that I have coached over the past 40 years.”

He added: “We are extremely grateful to Bond Wolfe for stepping forward for the third time.”

Bond Wolfe chairman Paul Bassi said: “My son plays fly-half for the 1st XV, and i have watched the team blossom from a group of raw but talented youngsters into a finely-tuned sporting unit playing at the highest level for a schoolboy side.”

He added: “These are days they will always cherish, having bonded as a good team, great friends, with wonderful memories. Who knows, perhaps one or two of these young players will become famous figures in the game one day.

“Bond Wolfe is proud to be associated in the community as sponsors of kit at King Edwards’ School, Camp Hill.”

Ends (376 words)

For further information, please contact:

Paul Bassi, Chairman,

Bond Wolfe, West Plaza, 8th Floor, High Street, West Bromwich B70 6JJ

0121 525 0600

Prepared and issued by Dale le Vack of ASAP, 01527 892004. Mobile, 07972506170

Editors’ Notes

Bond Wolfe is an established private property investment company and major auction house based in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. Its services include auctions, commercial sales and lettings, property investment and development and overseas property sales.

February 21, 2008


Category: Other News
Press release on behalf of Hillman Vets

A Walsall vet is urging pet owners to take advantage of a national vaccination amnesty after shock statistics have revealed a high proportion of the nation’s pets remain unvaccinated.

It is thought that up to 3 million dogs (46 per cent of the UK population), more than 6 million cats (77 per cent) and 1.8 million rabbits (90 per cent) remain unvaccinated, or have “lapsed” since their initial jabs.

As a result, they lack immunity to potentially fatal diseases like parvovirus in dogs, cat flu and myxomatosis in rabbits which kill thousands of pets in the UK every year.

The figures have been released by Intervet, organisers of the first-ever National Vaccination Month and the Veterinary Times, after a nationwide computer-based survey of animal disease awareness.

Now Richard Hillman of Hillman Vets, a leading vet and animal welfare campaigner, is urging pet owners to wake up to the dangers faced by pets who lack immunity.

He wants people to take advantage of a cut-price vaccination on offer next month as part of the amnesty scheme to protect their pets against potentially lethal infections.

“These shocking figures released by Intervet show just how many pet owners are taking a gamble with their pet’s health”, warned Mr Hillman.

“The incidence of many serious infectious diseases is frighteningly high, and yet more than half of all pet owners choose to ignore the risks.

“I frequently see animals becoming very ill and requiring long and expensive treatment or even euthanasia when a simple vaccination would have protected them.

“Diseases like parvo and distemper in dogs, and cat flu, enteritis and leukaemia in cats are always present in a town environment and have the potential to make pets very poorly and even kill them.

“Vaccination is the only way of preventing these serious diseases and along with insurance, is the best thing that owners can do for their pets.”

Pet owners can take advantage of the cut-price scheme as part of National Vaccination Month during March and receive a full course vaccination for the price of a booster at the following five Hillman clinics:

Richard Hillman Veterinary Surgery, 4 Brickiln Street, Brownhills, (telephone 01543 375154)

Darlaston PetSave Veterinary Centre, 53 Church Street, Darlaston, (0121 526 3555)

Richard Hillman Veterinary Surgery, 109 Weston Street, Walsall, (01922 720539).

Arboretum Veterinary Centre, 58 Lichfield Street, Walsall, (01922 622280)

Britannia Park Veterinary Centre, 60 Britannia Way, Lichfield, (01543 416336)

Ends. (417 words)

Press contact: Richard Hillman on 01922 725787 / 07739 814559.

Note to editor: Richard Hillman is president-elect of SPVS (The Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons) and has an interest in animal welfare issues. You are welcome to interview Richard on any animal welfare issue.

January 16, 2008


Category: Other News
Media release from Richard Hillman at SPVS:

Vets working in practices which fail to provide 24 hour emergency cover to patients are risking their careers, whether the practice is owned by a vet or a non-vet.

The warning has been issued by president elect of the Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons, Richard Hillman, after a Joint Officers meeting on Thursday (January 10) with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The RCVS confirmed that it will retain the requirement for provision of 24 hour cover in its Guide to Professional Conduct, despite the difficulties in conforming to the Working Time Directive.

Disciplinary action may be taken against any vet working for a practice which does not provide 24 hour cover, and vets risk being struck off even if they do not own the practice or the owner is not a veterinary surgeon.

Richard has welcomed the RCVS clarification of the issue for practising vets so that they aware of their personal liability and the potential threat to their livelihoods.

Richard said: “The Royal College recognises that there is a dilemma facing employers in that they have to meet working time regulations as well as complying with the Guide.

“SPVS wanted this issue clarified especially as the number of practices owned by non-vets is increasing.

“Although the RCVS cannot take any action against practice owners who are not veterinary surgeons, they will discipline any vets working for such a practice.

“This means the responsibility lies with every individual vet, so all practitioners need to be aware of this when they consider job offers and they must check their prospective employer is providing full cover.

“This clarification from RCVS also means that any vet whose current employer is failing to organise 24 hour cover in advance should move to another practice to safeguard their career”.

Further items discussed in the meeting on January 10 were the new Veterinary Surgeons Act, the Practice Standards Scheme, the Certificate in Advanced Veterinary Practice, and the workings of the Disciplinary Committee.

Richard, who takes over as President of SPVS in May, said: “The issue of 24 hour cover is just one of the many where I believe SPVS has important role to play in relaying the RCVS viewpoint to veterinary practitioners.

“SPVS is able to help translate the somewhat legalistic language of Royal College statements and issue a brief, clear messages to vets in their practices as well as representing the needs and wants of practitioners to the College..

“It is part of my vision for my presidency that I will be able to play a role in improving lines of communication between practising vets and the Royal College.”

Ends (438 words)

Press contact: Richard Hillman at SPVS on 01926 410454 or mobile 07739 814559

January 11, 2008

Walsall RFC in the HCW mould for promotion

Category: Other News
Click for larger image
Caption: Left to right: Laura Duggan and Suzanne Plater of Horwath Clark Whitehill, Chris Emes, president of Walsall RFC and Chris Mould of Horwath Clark Whitehill wearing the strip sponsored by the firm.


Press Release from Horwath Clark Whitehill LLP

Walsall RFC’s flying full-back Chris Mould, one of the veterans in a young team currently pushing hard for promotion into Midlands League One, believes his club is on a roll for the rest of the season.

Walsall are still unbeaten at home this season and with the first half of the season completed they currently challenge Malvern and Hereford for the top spot in the Midlands Two West - trailing the leaders by just three points.

Chris, an audit manager with Horwath Clark Whitehill, the leading West Midlands’ firm of accountants and business advisers, was instrumental in arranging sponsorship for Walsall RFC from his firm for a second season.

The new first team strip bears the Horwath Clark Whitehill logo. The firm sponsored the home fixture against Newbold in December which Walsall won by 46 points to three.

The firm is also sponsoring the young chartered accountant personally.

Its profile at the club includes a sponsor advertising board, appearance on the club website and home fixture programmes.

Twenty-seven-year-old Chris Mould said: “The new shirts have brought better fortune than last season when we lost so many key players from very serious injuries and could not recover in time to avoid relegation.

Chris added: “We intend to repay my firm’s belief and commitment in Walsall RFC by getting those vital results that will take us back to Midlands One which verges on the national leagues. We are ambitious and hungry for success.”

The side is back at full strength with Frenchman Pierre Barnieux, the captain, returning from injury.

Walsall RFC President Chris Emes said: “We will certainly be very disappointed if we don’t win back promotion to where we belong.”

The red and blacks lost three away games early in the season but since the late Autumn have hit better form.

Ends (326 words)

For further information, please contact:
Miriam Sherwood, Marketing Manager,
Horwath Clark Whitehill, Foley House, 123 Stourport Road, Kidderminster, DY11 7BW
01562 60101

Prepared and issued by Dale le Vack of ASAP PR, 01527 892004, or mobile 07972506170

Notes to editors

Horwath Clark Whitehill is a leading national provider of accounting and business advice.
The firm offers specialist and technical expertise to owner-managed businesses and larger corporates, not-for-profit organisations, pension funds, professional practices and private clients.
Horwath Clark Whitehill has over 60 partners and around 500 staff based in 8 offices in the UK.
Worldwide, Horwath Clark Whitehill is the UK member of Horwath International. As one of the largest global professional service organisations, Horwath International has more than 120 independent member firms operating from 430 offices around the world.

For more information visit our website at

December 13, 2007

Christmas tree shortage threatens festive spirit

Category: Other News
Click for larger image
Caption: Bromsgrove Christmas tree retailer Dave Reynolds warns people will have to be quick this year to get a good tree.


One of Worcestershire’s best known Christmas tree retailers warned this week that a national shortage means that real trees are likely to be in short supply.

But Dave Reynolds, who runs a business selling many hundreds of trees every year at Array Fruit Farm in Bromsgrove, said he will still be able to supply his regular customers provided they come early – after securing new supplies.

“We sold out last weekend and I got a shock when my wholesaler said he’d run out as well.”

Mr Reynolds, who has been selling Christmas trees for the past ten years, said he had now secured sufficient supplies for the coming two weekends when demand around Bromsgrove is expected to be at its highest.

The Danes usually supply 1,500,000 of the preferred Nordmann fir trees to Britain but only 500,000 have arrived this year according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association

The industry in Denmark began to suffer in 1998 when there were too many growers, causing prices to crash. Many producers went out of business.

In 2005 the problem was made worse when the EU decided to reward growers who uprooted their trees and started growing regular crops. Farmers received up to £200 per hectare.

To tackle the subsequent shortage British and Danish producers are now planting more trees, but a Nordmann needs ten years to reach maturity

Scottish and Irish growers will meet the shortfall of Nordmanns for retailers like Dave Reynolds who recommends the public should consider buying a variety known as the Noble fir.

“They have thick soft blue-green needles and also have excellent needle retention. Nothing can take the place of a naturally grown tree with its unique fragrance and natural beauty,” he said.

He added: “All our trees are from sustainable plantations. Within three weeks of a tree being cut down a new one is planted.”

Ends (311 words)

Prepared and issued by Dale le Vack of ASAP – 01527 892004, or mobile, 07972 506170

November 29, 2007

Rallying call to businesses to back Stratford’s future sports stars

Category: Other News
Press Release from SportsAid Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford businesses are being urged to back the next generation of potential young Olympians and sporting stars with the launch of SportsAid Stratford.

An inaugural luncheon with a top sporting star as guest speaker is being held at the Holiday Inn on Friday, February 22, and tables are now on sale.

Organiser Andy Skinner, a Stratford resident, said: “SportsAid is a national charity that runs very successful events in cities and towns the length and breadth of the UK but I discovered there were no Stratford events currently being organised.

“SportsAid exists to help the next generation of sportsmen and women. It targets the 12-16-year-olds who frequently don’t gain support from their national associations until they have established themselves. In that sense it is a chicken and egg situation and SportsAid helps them bridge the gap between potential and success.

“In my business life, I have attended a number of SportsAid events in Nottingham and seen first hand the benefits this extremely worthwhile charity can bring.

“SportsAid identifies the potential sporting stars in your area and then a cheque which will help them develop their talents is presented to them at a sporting luncheon.”

The cheque is handed over by a sporting star and names that support SportsAid include Geoff Miller, Karen Pickering, John McGovern, Willie Thorne and many others from all sporting areas.

A SportsAid grant not only provides financial support to young sportsmen and women, it also provides recognition. It acknowledges that they have a special ability and with the correct level of support, they could go on and achieve their full potential. By receiving a grant a young recipient is entering a unique club, with existing members representing the biggest names in British sport.

Those who have benefited from SportsAid's help over the last 30 years include Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent, Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Amir Khan, Jonathan Edwards, Darren Campbell and Roger Black.

Five times Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave said: “Lottery money has given British sport a fantastic boost, but it can't do everything. That's why the work of SportsAid is so important. If you are young, ambitious and just beginning to experience success, SportsAid is where you go for help.”

At the 2004 Athens Olympics, Britain had 17 gold medallists. SportsAid had supported 15 of them.

Andy Skinner said: “SportsAid is the only UK charity helping talented young sports people at an age when no-one else does. More often than not their only sponsors are Mum and Dad so any independent recognition and financial help that they can get will make a huge difference.

“Lottery funding has helped British sport enormously in recent years, but it cannot fund every aspect of sport, and money rarely trickles down to the 12-16 year-old age group. That’s why the work of SportsAid is so vital. If we don’t fund this generation, who will?

Tables for the launch event on Friday, February 22, are available at £350 plus VAT (£411.25) for a table of ten. Andy Skinner can be contacted via email at or 015127 892004. For further details of SportsAid, go to

Ends (522 words)

For further information, please contact:

Andy Skinner, Managing Director, (mobile – 07990 978257)

ASAP Ltd, 1a High Street, Astwood Bank, Redditch, B96 6DB

01527 892004

November 27, 2007

Have you heard the one about the office workers who were sacked for gossiping?

Category: Other News
Press Release from DLA Piper LLP

Gossip in the workplace may be salacious and sometimes downright nasty but is not necessarily a sackable offence – in the UK at least - according to employment lawyer Tom Long in the Birmingham office of global law firm DLA Piper.

Four employees in the US claim they were fired for repeating office gossip. They had discussed an alleged relationship between a manager and another employee with a lawyer hired to rout out chatterboxes among town hall employees.

The women, now known as the “Hooksett Four”, say they were told that nothing they said to the lawyer would be held against them. They were then fired.

The sacked women now maintain that the ensuing publicity has given the rumour new life.

“It’s still out there and it’s rattling like a rattlesnake,” one told the US media.

Tom Long said: “A US company has banned its workers from gossiping and four workers in New Hampshire have been sacked for gossiping but it is unlikely that a charge of ‘gossiping’ by itself would be enough to justify dismissal in the UK.

“What it does raise however, is the spectre of bullying and harassment which gossip can be a part of and often a contributory factor.”

In the UK harassment is defined as a form of discrimination that occurs when one person engages in unwanted conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating another person's dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the recipient of the harassment.

Harassment can be on grounds of the recipient's age, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment status, disability, race, ethnic or national origins, religion or belief, or where the conduct is of a sexual nature.

Bullying can be defined as repeated negative actions and practices that are unwelcome to the victim, who has difficulty defending themselves, causing them humiliation, offence and distress.

Although there is no specific bullying legislation in the UK employers could be held liable for bullying by their staff under various discrimination laws, claims for personal injury and under the Protection From Harassment Act. Employers are also under an obligation to maintain the trust and confidence of their employees.

Recent cases have highlighted the legal and financial risks for employers if they do not take steps to tackle workplace bullying. In 2006 an employee was awarded over £800,000 compensation for personal injury after bullying by her work colleagues resulted in her suffering a psychiatric breakdown.

Tom Long said that employers had a duty of care to prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace and this should be enshrined in the company’s policies and training.

“It is vital that senior managers take allegations of bullying and harassment seriously and not dismiss the complainant simply as someone with an inordinately thin skin.

“People react to bullying and harassment differently, and gossip and banter that might be accepted as the norm on a building site or in an army barracks might be treated very differently in an office environment where the sexes are mixed and many attitudes that were prevalent years ago are simply not acceptable now,” he explained.

Ends (516 words)

For further information, please contact:

Tom Long, Solicitor,

DLA Piper LLP, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B2 4DL

08700 111 111

Prepared and issued by Andy Skinner of ASAP, 01527 892004. Mobile, 07990 978257.

Notes to editors:

1. DLA Piper is the largest global legal services organisation in the world with over 3,600 lawyers across 64 offices and 25 countries. From its offices across Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the United States, legal and business advisers provide a range of services to local, regional and international businesses.

2. For further information about our organisation and services, please visit our website:

January 31, 2007

Ex-sports editor teams up with ASAP PR

Category: Other News
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Fraser Thomson has joined burgeoning ASAP Press & Public Relations as news editor, continuing the company’s drive to treat the PR operation just like any other newsroom in the country.

Mr Thomson, who until April 2006 was Head of Sport at The Birmingham Post newspaper, will run the ASAP operation as a news desk, monitoring the small and efficient team of dedicated writers from story source to completion.

It is a role that he believes is vital in the modern world of public relations when copy from clients can flow thick and fast… just like in a newsroom.

“It also means it was not such a huge philosophical leap from The Post newsroom to Andy Skinner’s office,” said Mr Thomson.

“I like the way ASAP operates. It is a major benefit for clients trying to get their message across in print, radio or television.

“We write our stories not as PR puffs but as normal stories that journalists – particularly editors – can simply drop into their pages or use in their bulletins without having to alter the story in any way. We appreciate this can be a major benefit to busy editors, especially if they have tight deadlines to meet.”

The seeds of his switch to PR started on the golf course when playing in The Birmingham Post Golf Day alongside ASAP managing director Andy Skinner.

Perhaps more to do with the quality of their golf than a reluctance to converse, the pair were half-way down the 18th fairway at Blackwell Golf Club when they realised they had attended the same boarding school in Scotland!

Their lives – professionally and socially – sometimes seem to revolve around golf and, with ASAP, boasting a number of golf-related accounts, the attraction in the new role was obvious.

Mr Thomson, aged 42, brings with him a wealth of experience in daily, evening and weekly newspapers, having worked for the past 22 years throughout the Midlands. During his 15 years at The Birmingham Post he worked in news, features and sport.

He left The Post after a restructuring of the newsroom last April, having overseen the sports department through three Ryder Cups, two football World Cups, two Olympic games and myriad other events both nationally and locally.

He hopes to expand on ASAP’s growing client list, especially its links to sports clubs and organisations.

He remains undaunted by the so-called leap over the fence.

“Many people – most of them tired old hacks who are conservative with a small ‘c’ and therefore loath to change – fear the switch from newspapers to PR but, because of the way ASAP runs I have been able to quickly embrace the different challenges.

“Effectively we interview our clients like any other journalist would and, because we are all ex-reporters, our copy can be cut and pasted almost directly on to the page. As far as I am aware, no other agency in the West Midlands operates in this way.

“As well as a writer, my job will be to keep on top of the other team members to make sure their copy is ready on time and to the clients’ satisfaction, along with supporting photography.

“We believe desk editors prefer to be presented with work they don’t really need to touch except to put it on the page.”

ASAP has a diverse range of clients ranging from accountants and auctioneers, through property developers and search and selection consultants, to solicitors and veterinarians. The company also specialises in events management particularly golf days and sports dinners and producing events diaries and business guides.

January 30, 2007

MFG Solicitors builds on commercial property success

Category: Other News
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Law firm MFG Solicitors is investing heavily in its commercial property team with the launch of a new dedicated centre based in its Bromsgrove office.

The firm has also recruited two very experienced property lawyers in new partner Cheryl Leyser and solicitor Vanessa France.

Cheryl Leyser has latterly been working with Talbots Solicitors in Stourbridge but prior to that gained commercial experience in Birmingham with Edge & Ellison (now Hammonds) before moving to George Green & Co in 1989, becoming a partner in 1991.

She has specialised in commercial property law since 1987 and advises clients with property portfolios, owner-managed businesses, property developers and institutions. She also acts on all aspects of landlord and tenant issues and security transactions.

It was the opportunity to join a growing team with specialisms in both residential and commercial development work that attracted her to MFG Solicitors.

“I knew MFG Solicitors were expanding their commercial property department, especially following their acquisition of the Droitwich-based niche property practice Simon Bishop & Partners,” she said.

Cheryl is a governor of Stourbridge College and enjoys skiing, golf and travelling in general.

Vanessa France has moved from Cheltenham firm Willans and gained experience at The Wilkes Partnership and Hammonds in Birmingham.

While at The Wilkes Partnership she assisted on the transfer of 28,000 properties, at the time one of the largest single transaction large scale voluntary transfers ever undertaken. She was based in-house at Walsall Council for six months, providing advice to the council project managers and surveyors. The project generated further multi-million pound investment.

Vanessa is a regular correspondent for The Law Society’s property magazine and Butterworths’ legal journal. She is a former committee member of Women in Property in Birmingham. Married with two children, she lives in Droitwich.

A fluent Spanish speaker, in 2005 Vanessa co-ordinated an expedition of lawyers and legal staff up Mulhacen, Spain’s highest mountain in the Sierra Nevada.

Partner Michael Payne, head of MFG Solicitors’ corporate and commercial property division, said: “Our investment in a dedicated commercial property centre and the recruitment of two such experienced lawyers at Cheryl and Vanessa demonstrates our commitment both to our clients and to growing our business.

“I am delighted to welcome them into the team and know that their depth of knowledge will add to the comprehensive service we are able to provide to all those who have commercial property issues, whether developers or directors of businesses.”

January 22, 2007

Environment Minister opens eco-friendly village hall

Category: Other News
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Environment Minister opens eco-friendly village hall

When Midland lawyer Peter Hill and the residents of Rock admire their new village hall, which could almost be heated by candles, they can give themselves a gentle pat on the back for helping to safeguard
the environment.

The hall lies at the heart of the community and was an amenity they could ill-afford to lose. Now it stands as a proud testament to the village’s desire to safeguard the environment for future generations.

Gone is the cold, damp hall of old – like so many village halls throughout the country. In its place stands a warm and welcoming hall for the whole community.

In an age of eco-friendly designs, the new village hall, built entirely from sustainable materials, will was opened by the Rt Hon Ian Pearson, Minister of State for Climate Change and the Environment, on Friday, January 19, 2007.

Peter Hill, a partner at MFG Solicitors, used his legal expertise to assist in the conveyancing and redevelopment of the hall and land. Work started on the new hall in January 2006 after nearly six years of fundraising by the residents of the Worcestershire village. The aim, from the outset, was to build a new hall using recycled and sustainable materials together with systems to reduce the impact on resources and the environment.

Mr Hill said: “I was delighted to be asked to complete conveyancing work for this unique project and the adjoining Millennium Green.

“With the previous building beyond repair, it was essential this close community received a replacement, and the fact that it follows such a revolutionary design is even better.

"The process may have been a long one, including the acquisition of the new site, dealing with the Lotteries Board grant conditions and the disposal of the old hall, but it was well worth it in the end after some trials and tribulations."

The land upon which it has been built was generously donated to the villagers by the family of the late Aubrey Booton. Now Rock boasts a proud new hall which stands like a shining beacon to those keen to protect the environment.

Ralph Round, chairman of the village hall sub committee, said: “This project is a fine example of Lottery funding being used at a grassroots level.

“With the help of many people – architects, planners, advisors and many others – this flagship, eco-friendly building will be an example for others to follow in the future. We are very grateful to Peter Hill and MFG Solicitors for all the work they have carried out on our behalf.

“The foundations use recycled aggregates and all the timber in the construction comes from the Forestry Stewardship Council sources.

“Self-weathering cedar timber was used extensively in the construction, including a cedar shingle roof. The insulation specifications are way beyond normal values and we are using recycled storm water which is pumped up from underground collection tanks to flush the toilets.

“Such is its environmental significance that the hall was formally opened by Mr Pearson.

“The village had already lost one of its two pubs and its local school, shop and Post Office. The village hall was the one facility we could not afford to lose. Our existing village hall, built in 1949, was very tired and, even if it was repairable, was quite inadequate to be the centre of our community today.”

Funding for the hall, which cost approximately £650,000 came from various sources. The main funders included The Big Lottery Fund (£288,000) and Severn Waste Environmental Fund/ Welcome to Our Future (£110,000).

Other monies have come from smaller awards and donations, local fundraising and the sale of the old hall.

Architect Keith Chandler of Clist and Chandler in Pershore said: “In the design of this new building, we have tried to move towards a sustainable building with low environmental impact.

“There is a rainwater recycling system and the building will utilise ground source energy, collecting heat from the earth to provide a constant temperature in the building. This will help to preserve the fabric of the building.”

As well as serving the local community, the new facility is an ideal venue for conferences and seminars. Special rates are available for events where sustainability is the theme. Contact Vicky on 01299 832006.

October 23, 2006

Slow down? No chance says John

Category: Other News
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Press Release from John Truslove, business property consultants

Slow down? No chance says John

At an age when most men want to go slower, John Truslove is desperate to go faster.
But the drive for speed has paid off because the 57-year-old business property consultant is all set to be crowned Formula Junior motor racing champion at Silverstone on Saturday, October 21.
He has already accumulated enough points in his 1959 Lola Mk 2 single seater to be sure of claiming the title in a series that has seen fierce battles in rounds that took in tracks in both the UK and France.
Formula Junior has evolved into a class for classic racing cars from the 1950s onwards and because many cars and engines are still readily available, Formula Junior is now a popular category in historic racing. Drivers with a background in Formula Junior include Jim Clark, John Surtees and Denis Hulme.
John Truslove and his team travelled the length and breadth of the UK and France during a season involving rounds at Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Cadwell Park, Dijon, Donington, Oulton Park, Croft, Croix en Ternois and Mallory Park.
John said: “It has been a fantastic season and I will definitely be back to defend my title next year.
“Inevitably the driver gets all the credit for his performance on the track, but I must stress that the championship could not have been won without the preparation and hard work undertaken by Rob Kerkhoven of RKR in Worcester and Mark Clarke of Avon Automotive.
“This year we had 100 per cent reliability and that speaks for itself.”
Among many fantastic scraps he has enjoyed during the season which began way back on March 12, he singles out a rainy race at Mallory Park against Mark Woodhouse of Catshill Garage in Bromsgrove driving a rear-engined Lotus as being worthy of particular mention.
“He pushed me really hard, but the Lola is such a responsive car in the wet.”
It is not John’s first brush with motor racing fame. He won his class in the Historic Sports Car Club classic single seater category in 2001 driving an Elva DKW and was previously Formula 750 Trophy champion in 1999.
But what drives him to continue driving so fast?
“At my age you tend to forget where the brake pedal is, and at my weight you are round the corners before you realise they are there!” he joked.
“Seriously though, I enjoy the camaraderie, the places we visit and simply the thrill of motor racing in its purest form,” he said.
The Worcestershire-based businessman is a chartered surveyor with a burgeoning commercial property practice and his company is currently celebrating 25 years, with Neason & White, a Redditch practice he acquired some years ago, having notched up 150 years.

Ends (452 words)

For further information, please contact the offices of John Truslove
01527 584242

Prepared and issued by Andy Skinner of ASAP – 01527 892004, or mobile, 07990 978257.

August 1, 2006

Beware of claims for costs of long term care

Category: Other News
Press Release from Lodders

Beware of claims for costs of long term care

Experts on community care at Warwickshire law firm Lodders are warning that elderly people in nursing homes should check to see whether or not they are entitled to the full cost of their care being met by the NHS.
The comments follow the BBC’s Panorama programme giving an update on the “NHS Homes Swindle”.
Family lawyer Sarah Magness said: “Following the Coughlan case in 1999, which involved a tetraplegic lady Pamela Coughlan who challenged her local health authority and won, the Department of Health published guidance following which each local health authority had to outline eligibility criteria setting out who is and who is not eligible for Continuing NHS healthcare.
“However, there is a concern that local health authorities are not following their own criteria correctly, or that their criteria is unlawful and not Coughlan-compliant.”
Essentially, if a person’s needs are primarily of health, then irrespective of their social care needs the NHS should fund their care. Any person, irrespective of their means, who is discharged from hospital into long term nursing care is entitled to a Continuing NHS Healthcare assessment under the single assessment process.
The Government is currently going through a consultation process to create national eligibility criteria so that the problems caused by differences between each health authority are resolved.
Sarah Magness said: “However, this will take time before it is implemented. Meanwhile families are selling elderly relatives homes in order to fund their care at a cost of £450 to £1,500 a week, and in some cases it may not be necessary for them to sell the homes to fund that care as the NHS should be footing the entire bill.
“It is essential that elderly people and their families take early specialist legal advice before committing vast sums to fund the long term care of their elderly relative in a nursing home.”
Lodders, one of the leading regional authorities on private client matters, is one of the few firms to have a Community Care Department with solicitors and legal executives who are members of Solicitors for the Elderly, a national organisation that specialises in legal advice for the elderly
Sarah Magness, Sofia Tayton or Emma Vaqueiro on 01789 293259 are able to give specialist advice in this area.
Sarah Magness said: “It is vital that you do not accept at face value any communication from the NHS in this very sensitive area, and that you seek qualified, professional advice as soon as possible.”

Ends (408 words)

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Magness, Solicitor,
Lodders, Number Ten, Elm Court, Arden Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6PA
01789 293259

Prepared and issued by Andy Skinner of ASAP - 01527 892004, mobile - 07990 978257.

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